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Adding Artistic Touches to Your Map
If you are shooting for a "5" in the "graphics" portion of your scenario review, consider applying some of the following tips and tricks to your map.
-- Picture 1 --------------
In Picture 1, I have placed a small wooded area along side a stream. I wanted the stream to look nice, so I placed swamp tiles along the stream's edge. The only problem with using swamp tiles here is I have to use swamp trees along the edge of the stream. To get the "grass" based trees to blend in with the "swamp" based trees, I had to click many times to go through several "shades" of "woods" tiles. For the swamp tiles, I used the third swamp tree tile (the one with the most trees) and clicked until I had trees which were more of a golden color than the blue-green of some swamp trees. I then clicked many more times with the third tree tile to get grass-based trees which were also mostly golden in color.
I then added a few red flowers throughout the forest to give the appearance of red berries (or something), further tying the wooded area together visually. On the left side of the wooded area I placed a few dead trees to make a transition to the other terrain beyond the forest.
-- Picture 2 --------------
In Picture 2, I created some foothills. I placed a few single-hexagon mountains just beyond the mountain range. I then clicked through the grass-based trees using the first tree tile (fewest trees) to get the darkest shade of trees. Once done, I added a few shrubs and white flowers to complete the area. I could have also added some rocks to make it look more rough like foothills, but left this section plain since I used rocks a lot in a nearby section of the map.
-- Picture 3 --------------
In this section of the map (Picture 3) I created more of a jungle look. There are more trees like the one big one by the teleporter, but they are are off to the left of the pictured area. I placed a lot of rocks through this area, trying to keep to a uniform rock size through the area. I then added a lot of shrubs to give it more of a jungle look, transitioning from the dark trees to the shrubs and rocks. Off to the left of the picture, the transition continued with the big, light green trees mixed with more shrubs and rocks, and a few small mountains.
-- Picture 4 --------------
For the centerpiece of this section (Picture 4) I placed a windmill on a grass hill. I placed a tower in the same hexagon as the windmill to add a strategic location that would be easier to hold. I then replaced the shaded side of the grass hill with swamp terrain. The swamp terrain makes the shaded side even darker, emphasizing the depth of the shading and enhancing the 3D effect. I added some rocks to complete the hill.
The sand dune to the left of the windmill is made up of three types of terrain: desert, coast, and steppe. The desert terrain is the brightest, with coast terrain a bit duller, and steppe much darker. For the tops of the dunes I used the desert terrain, and I placed coast terrain in between the desert terrain to add a subtle appearance of lower elevation. For the shaded side of the dunes I used steppe terrain. This creates a subtle but more full appearance and texture to the terrain.
-- Picture 5 --------------
For the marshy stream at the bottom of the section (Picture 5), the still picture does not do it justice. I lined the stream/marsh with swamp terrain and placed reeds and cattails. I used the first reed tile (least number of reeds) for the center to make a stream through the marsh. Once again, I had to click several times to get the right placement of reeds. For the edge, I used water and swamp reeds using the second and third reed tiles of each terrain type. I also added some cattails to a few locations, using the first or second tile. I didn't use the third cattail tile because it creates too full of an effect, as cattails fill in the space much more than do reeds.
With the reeds in place I randomly added "strong current" and "violent storm" tiles to give the appearance of swarms of bugs in the marsh. I also added one pestilence cloud for effect.
Here is the complete screenshot with all the sections combined (Picture 6). I added a few more details to the map, such as the cracks in the ground and two razed towers. Hopefully this map would inspire a reviewer to give me a "5" rating for the map graphics, but I may want to do a bit more tweaking to be sure it is as good as I can get it.
-- Picture 6 --------------
Before I end this article, I want to demostrate one more technique that can be used on maps. When placing forests or other related terrain, usually you can only place one tile per hexagon. Thus, if I were to select the third grass-based forest tile, I could only place one tile on a hexagon (Picture 7).
-- Picture 7 --------------
However, it is possible to make this forest even thicker. By copying one forest tile, I can past that tile on top of another forest tile, combining the two on one hexagon (Picture 8). A tile can be copied by selecting* it, holding the ctrl key and pressing "c". To paste it, select the target hexagon, hold the ctrl key, and press "v".
(*) The bottom edge of the editor window shows what object is currently selected when you click on a hexagon, but don't confuse it with the terrain type the mouse pointer is currently over, which is also shown at the bottom of the screen.
-- Picture 8 --------------
Be careful about pasting the same tile too many times, for it will become obvious that the same tile was used (Picture 9).
-- Picture 9 --------------
That's it! Happy map designing, and may it bring out the artist in you!
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